A place to write.

There comes a time in every writer’s life that they realise they need to be writing, most times just for the sake of it. It doesn’t have to be anything remotely resembling profound either, it just needs to be written. It feels like it has to come out. While this may be true at the time, it is also a common event to revisit something that was written during these moments and find that it is absolute shit.

Doesn’t matter. It just needed out. I’ve read great words and thoughts from great writers, and I’ve seen and heard interviews where they’ve imparted small bits of wisdom, passed on some of their techniques and advice on how to use what can be considered talent. The best and most consistent advice that I’ve ever heard was the simplest as well.

Write. Just write.

I get that a lot, that urge to write. While it’s usually an urge to actually create something, writing satisfies it in a way that few other things can. Drawings have a way of never feeling completed and tend to take too long for my taste. Building or making something is nice, but strangely dissatisfactory when I’ve finished, and cleaning is, well, cleaning. A productive use of my time that does nothing for my soul.

The day I realised that I was a writer was when I felt that I’d done something to make my soul feel better. It’s cathartic, to say the least.

Something that a writer needs, other than the urge to write, is somewhere to write. A place that they can not only sit and let their thoughts create a story, or at least a pattern, but somewhere to put it when they’re done.

I haven’t had a place like that for a while. Sure I’ve got my little corner of the house, a hidey-hole where I can sort of shut out the World. Saving stuff down as Word documents in a folder called “writing” isn’t working for me anymore. There are lots of things that aren’t working for me anymore.

I’ve built this blog into something that I suppose I had intended it to be originally, yet no longer have a use for. It was fun to write things that made me laugh, that made me feel, that made me think that others out there should share in this. The feedback I received was overwhelming to the point of life-changing.

I’d gone out looking for something, I suppose, and I found it in spades. Suddenly my sense of purpose with this… writing place, was less clear. It’s an understatement to say that I’d lost my focus, and this finally made sense when I applied some hindsight and saw what it was that I was doing with my writing, with my blogging. I’d found what I was looking for and, once I found it, didn’t know what to do after that.

I’ve purposely kept my real life quite separate from this blog, and have had to find ways to help build my ever-expanding online presence without using this site and it’s juice, so to speak. There’s only so much that you can hide though, from the online world, and only so much that paranoia can protect you from. There comes a time that you realise that they’re not actually all coming to get you, and you don’t really have to worry about how much they know about you.

Like my old man used to sometimes say, “If you’ve been good, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.” Don’t know if I’ve necessarily been good, but for whatever I have been I make no real apologies, for whoever it is that I am today has been built upon that, and I reckon I’m pretty pleased with who I am today.

So, as the finely sliced division between my original online persona and my actual online self starts to fade away, I realise that I’m going to let it. I’m not going to purposely bring the two crashing together, or even push the issue, I’m just not going to be as fervent at keeping them separate and distinct. Part of that means putting some parts of me out there that I normally wouldn’t share with this audience that I’ve built over the years.

Part of that means accepting that people are, just like me, multi-faceted, and don’t necessarily have to have things the same as they’ve always been just because they’ve always been that way.

My name is Judd, and I’m a writer. I’m 33 and married to an amazing woman that read this site one day and started an unbelievable string of events. She had two kids before meeting me, they’re mine now, though the law and some crappy people disagree. We’ve made a kid of our own, and her level of awesomeness is higher at 12 months than most people ever get to in their whole lives.

About a year ago, I quit my job. I quit my job for no real reason other than I was sick of working for someone else. I was tired of putting up with great quantities of shit just so somebody else could benefit from my energy and efforts. I started my own business doing web consulting and web marketing and am writing as much as I can in my spare time under the misguided notion that I’ll someday have enough material for a book that more than 12 people will want not only want to read but pay to do so.

I’ve been needing a place to put the stuff that I’ve been writing, meant for a book or not, and I’m going to put it here.

I hope you like it.

Fighting.

The scene is set with two Celtic warriors facing each other, either of warring clans or over a serious dispute involving land and honour. It must be serious, this is a fight to the death.

The plume of hair rides down from the top of his helmet into his face as his eyes squint and his mouth carves out a sneer. He yells at me something barely intelligible that I take to mean he intends to kill me this day, and I acknowledge the receipt of this message by yelling something even more unintelligible back at him about how I have no intention of dying.

He raises his shield and his sword and I raise mine. He waits for a half-beat and I let loose with a scream that is matched in intensity only by the blow from my sword. It clangs heavily off of his shield. As I follow-up with two more heavy shots, I don’t realise I am still screaming until I stop.

He was been waiting, biding his time and measuring what I’ve got to bring against him. His patience has paid off as I am panting with an effort that has nothing to show for it. He brings a wide swing into my side and my shield crunches uncomfortably into my shoulder and hip. He follows this with a growing roar and a slash at my unguarded leg, the parrying of which throws me off balance. The advantage is his at this point, and he knows this. A glint of metal above me warns that a slash is on a dead path for my head.

By the time my shield is up in defence, I realise that this was a mistake, as the weight of his swing throws me further off-balance, and his following shot cleanly slices across my hip. The impact produces enough of a grunt to make my cry of pain a mix of anger and surprise, and my shield thuds into the muddy ground nearer to him than myself.

I stagger backwards and attempt to regain my balance. I am panting heavily now, and I can feel twin drops of sweat gathered on the brow of each of my eyes. The sweat is already streaming off of my nose and trickling down to my upper lip. I spit, fiercely and in anger, and the spray hovers for a second before alighting gently to the ground.

He’s readying himself to press the attack, and I throw myself at him, furiously screaming and swinging wildly. I realise that he is waiting again, for me to tire myself out, for me to reveal another weak spot, for the right opportunity to kill me. I swing again, a half-hearted attempt at his head which he easily parries away with his shield as he raises his sword high above his head.

My trick has worked, and the feigned weakness that I put into my slash lures him into a high and heavy killing blow while I have positioned myself closer to him. My newly free left arm backhands his sword arm, knocking it off it’s intended path, and I grip the back of his neck as one might if they were telling someone something very secret and very important. The surprise registers on his face a split second before I slam my head into his. Though his helmet absorbs the brunt of it, he is stunned enough to stagger backwards and drop his shield. We are now back on a relative par.

The sneer that was previously etched into his jaw has faded into the realisation that he may have underestimated his opponent. My confidence swells and I lunge at him again, swinging down across his body and forcing him onto his back foot. I press the advantage and thrust at his ribs, forgetting momentarily that he isn’t wounded like I am, and his health gives him the agility to gracefully parry my shot away. One small step forward and he has once again neatly and cleanly sliced across my torso just below my ribs.

I back away, reeling and grunting, gasping and panting, knowing that this is going to be over soon, one way or another. Because of the decreasing length of this moment in this battle, I stay in relatively close with him, circling warily and heavily wounded. There is little hope that he will underestimate me again. Wounded and tired, I am going to have to outfight him.

I swing at him in a wide arc, testing his defences, and he parries easily. He’s waiting again. He’s smart. I throw another testing shot, and he proves how smart he is by slapping away my sword and then immediately raising his for another high and heavy killing shot. I am somewhat off-balance, not ready, and he knows this. I’ve been caught pressing too much again and he knows this as well.

I have only enough time to grab the end of my sword with my left hand and raise it feebly above my head before his blow drives the flat of my sword into my head, and me to my knees.

I don’t know whether it is embarrassment or shame which drives my next action. It is most likely a combination of those and a primal survival instinct, an inner control that only exerts itself on our actions when our life is very nearly being taken. I’m on my knees, exhausted and badly wounded, and it is this instinct that tells my arms to swing my sword to my right, parrying his sword and using his momentum to direct it towards the ground.

I rise, almost into him, and in one fluid motion I swipe my sword heavily across his body, slicing into his open side, my sword finishing high in the air almost in victory. Before I can even begin to envision that his entrails are now trailing off of my weapon, he is growling at me and gathering his strength back.

Only now is he just as wounded as I.

The length of our swords isn’t such that we can duel with both hands as effectively, this is going to continue to be up close. Knowing this, I move into him, growling and tensing my body, balling my shoulders up and winding back for a heavy swing. My sword arcs across his body and clangs heavily off his parry, knocking him back a bit off-balance. I lean in again and come back across his body. I’ve got him reeling. I press the advantage and plant my right foot in close, preparing for the kill.

Another trap. I’ve come from low to high, in an effort to get under his defences and finish him, but he’s outsmarted me. His wound hasn’t affected his agility as much as I had estimated, and this realisation is as much of a shock as the helplessness I feel when he bats my sword away from the inside, exposing my body. A heavy slash across my chest causes my arms to reflexively recoil into my body and my instinct to flee hits as I try to turn my body. Another swipe across my upper thigh and I am on the ground.

Everything slows down, and as I am acutely aware of my vulnerability I am also aware that he is circling me. As I prepare to marshal my strength in a final effort to rise and fight, I turn my head to see where he is. I’ve barely got time to raise my hand as his boot slaps painfully into the side of my head.

My next conscious thought is bewilderment at how I came to rest on my back. The overwhelming feeling of wrongness sweeps over me as I realise the difference between the energy and action of a fight and laying helplessly and bleeding in the dirt. This is not right, and I shouldn’t be here.

Though I know this, there is little I can do about it. A primal and guttural growl lifts out of my throat as I force into action the ultimate focus of my energies, my sword.

I am not here though, not properly, and reality asserts itself by once again showing me that, although the world has slowed down for me, it hasn’t for everyone. His boot lands firmly across my wrist, and it’s message to my body is final. I am not to move.

The matter-of-fact look in his eye tells me that he has to do this. I glare at him, and when his eyes meet mine, he glares back.

I fight him. I defy him. I struggle against him.

He shoves his sword into my chest. My head tips back and my chin raises high as I cry out, voicing this injustice unto the world. Then I fall silent.

I am dead.


“You can get up now” he says dryly and with a smirk as he walks across the grass to pick up our shields, “that was pretty good.”Praise from my reserved and sarcastic brother-in-law is as rare as my graceful acceptance of it. Usually, I either stay quiet or try to insult him. This time, I stay quiet, and I listen as he tells me that I’m ready, and that I’ve got the elusive ‘it’ and that most people either don’t quite have ‘it’, or it takes them ages to learn ‘it’.

I am a warrior.

I am a showfighter.

And I am ready.

Training.

The air is slightly humid, it must have been quite foggy in the earlier morning hours. The sunlight glides through the trees and lands in swatches on the grass surrounding me and gives a dull glow to the rivets across the top of my helmet. It’s copper finish shines with an understated polish, standing out and pleasing the eye but not inviting as a focal point. It has strength with subtlety.

The leather across the cuff of my arm braces digs into my wrist as I tighten down the smaller straps and each arm gives a faint and straining creak as I adjust them on my forearm. The helmet’s somewhat clunky metal flaps fall awkwardly on my hands as I lift it to my head, and the familiar slightly musty smell of stale sweat and physical activity hits my nose a split second before I plunk it on top of my head.

As I cinch down the strap under my chin, I can feel a change come over me, as if my entire perspective on the World has changed in a heartbeat. It is honest and straightforward with no pretence or false fronts, its single purpose to protect me implicitly. This is serious now.

The soft leather of my left glove envelops my hand and forearm like a lover. Protective and comforting, its soft suppleness belies its tough exterior. The sharp contrast between my gloves is never more apparent to me than when I first heft my right glove. With it’s multi-layered riveted leather, it is a turtle shell to its left hand counterpart’s bathrobe. It slides on easier than it would seem that it should, and I flex the fingers instinctively to re-familiarise myself with its feel, with the comfort that it affords while being so protective.

I’m suited up and ready yet in a sense, still bare. I walk a few feet over and in one fluid motion grab both my sword and my shield, the weight of which still surprises me when I first heft it. As I walk toward the field instinct takes over, and I can feel the sword moving through the air in patterns and twirls on it’s own. My shoulders show no sign of the weariness and soreness this very sword and shield produced a week before.

My movements are natural and real to me and I am already warmed-up. No further preparation is necessary.

I am ready to fight.


The melee training has taught me little today other than to stick to my comrade’s side and protect them without expecting any actual protection from them. I have been “killed” by blind shots to my head and ribs repeatedly and I am embittered by not having had the opportunity to face down my actual opponent.I separate from the group and Chef approaches. He’s by far the most aggressive and fluid trainer out there. We square off and I know I’m in for it when I’m “dead” 3 times right in a row without landing a single shot. His wildly intense eyes soften and his stern grimace widens into a smile as he gives me some instruction. He ends with “Calm mind, clear action” and I struggle to keep those words winding through my head as he relentlessly attacks and attacks.Soon, I find a rhythm and a way of breaking his. I time my strikes to a jarring effect into the ease and flow of his swipes and parries. It throws him off enough that I can affect some manner of attack and soon, I am able to “kill” him.“GOOD” he bellows almost proudly, and my own insecurity whispers into my ear that he probably let me have that one. I go for another and he is freshly wounded.

As if he can actually hear the demons in my head, his half-smile peeks from behind a flurry of swings as he says, “I’m not holding back you know.”

By the time I have absorbed what he has said, I have absorbed the slash to the side of my head as well. I am dead.

We share a smile of respect and get back to it.

So. Writing. And Work.

I actually wrote this in an email to a friend, but then figured I’d not only like more concrete documentation of this line of thinking than an item in my “Sent” folder, but that I’d like to share it with more than just one person.

I’ve been doing lots of thinking about this kind of shit in the last few weeks/months. I’ve even written about it before, but probably in one of the other blogs and not JH, and it’s getting to be something of an issue in Life.

See, the thing is, unlike a great many, I actually Know where my passions lie. And, also unlike a great many, I’m starting to learn that I may actually have a talent for them. Much like you, El Puerco, and my amazing and wonderful wife, I’m pretty good at this writing thing. And I wanna do it, like all the time ?n stuff.

Then there’s work. I am in the Fucking IT field, and Yes I capitalise it because it means that to me, where I am good at what I do and can be quite successful if I choose to be. I’ve seen how it happens and I know what to do to make it a reality.

At the end of the day, what will I have?

More money, sure, but kids that have grown without me knowing and a wife who knows that I love her? on the weekends. Needless to say, Not for me. And I mean, No Fucking Way In Hell for me, thanks.

I drive to work, fighting retarded commuter traffic, and work 9 to 5 like the rest of the slobbering shitwipes in the Rat Race, and then I go home, where Life really is. I have about 2 hours with my kids, playing on the floor and watching the Simpsons, but they gotta eat and it takes them for fucking ever sometimes, so it’s really about an hour or so. Then, it’s another 2 or so hours with Wife and then bed. Then, get up in the morning, get the boy’s lunch and their brekky ready and then do it all over again.

Is it worth it? Welp, gotta pay bills and eat. There you go.

Thing is, you don’t see a lot of time for writing in there do you? Nup.

I’m fine with that, for now, because I wouldn’t trade my time with my family for anything in the World, and I gotta be at work at least 8 hours in order to make enough money to eat and have a house and shoes n’ shit. There’s no time to write, but my time is buying some important things. Again? for now.

I’m not sure what you’ve got for a social life, but if you’ve got the time, then WRITE. Do it. Write as much as you can and as often as you can. I’m not one for dropping names (?cept Russell Crowe and that’s only because I like to say that I heard his cock stinks) but I actually used to correspond with Augusten Burroughs, who wrote some of my favourite books and is a #1 bestselling author and I think is even making a movie or something. He’s special and famous and shit, and gave ME writing advice, cos I really AM that cool (someday I’ll write about that time I met the Brit Asshole from American Idol and thought he was somebody I knew from hockey. Heh. Classic).

His advice though, was basically just what I told you: Write. Alla time. Always.

You’ll get better at it the more you do it as well as be busy building a repertoire, a repository, a bunch of cool shit that you can someday do something with. You’ll be able to have enough examples of random shit that anyone possibly interested could even think of.

Somebody at a newspaper says, “Can yeh write up somebody’s obit?” and you say casually, “Actually, just to be morbid and because I was pissed at him for that crack about my grades in High School… here’s my father’s. Oh, he’s not really dead either, so you can ask him how good that one is. Ignore the paragraph about the cause of death being a flame-engulfed kayak paddle to the rectum and you’ll find it’s actually pretty accurate.”

I’ve even got me a blog where I write nothing but the shit from my brain. And by “shit” I mean “excrement” coz that’s what it is. Shit. But it needs out and it feels cool to get it out and be partially entertained by it. Nobody reads that one, ‘cept Wife, and that’s how I like it.

See? Even writing Shit is still good for writing skilz. Fuck, do like the Smartypants chick and just stick it all in a book. Hell, call blog entries chapters and you would barely need to edit.

So that’s my advice. Same as Augusten’s and he’s brilliant and if I met him in person I’d kiss him full on the lips and I don’t care that he loves smokin’ him some pole. No tongue tho cos I’m married.

I honestly don’t know how long for the corporate world in the Information Age I am. I mean, all up, I still just make fucking websites, it’s not like I’m curing Cancer or curing anything cool with the word “genital” in it. Ask Wife, I still lay in bed some nights and piss and moan about this career, vowing to chuck it all in and not care if the 4 (soon to be 5) of us huddle under a goddam scrap of cardboard as long as we’re happy, and all that.

Life’s too short to wait too long for the really, Really, good shit. If you’re anything like me, then writing is your Really Good Shit, or at least can provide for it, and you need to Get On It.

Fuck, I’ve sat here through my lunch break writing this and now I’m all ready to just jump up, tip my desk over, throw my monitor out the window and onto the odd Korean who sells me Sausage Rolls, and fucking go home and write a book that will feed me and my family for the next 37 years.

When I haven’t, and it’s 5:30, and I’ve finished yet another fucking website, and I’m headed home, and I’m tuning in the traffic report to see whether or not to avoid the Graham Farmer Freeway, please don’t ask me why I didn’t. Don’t or I’ll fart on you. And lately they’ve been a weird combination of sweet cigar and rotten cabbage, with a hint of nutmeg. It isn’t worth it.

I’ll get to it soon. Serious. Just not sure when, but it’ll happen. Ask Wife, I get that look in my eye, and she knows it’ll happen.

Shatsicles, I gotta get back to it.

Take care o’ you.

Welcome to Australia Mate.

As I was driving back from Hungry Jack’s (“Burger King” Aussie-ized) the other night, the full enormity of what I’d done really hit me, and I almost yelled at the old woman walking her dog, “Holy Shit! I live in a WHOLE other country! You believe this?!?”

I didn’t voice that thought, but that didn’t stop her from staring at me in wonderment anyway, and I realized that I may not have such a firm grasp of this whole driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road business. That, or I’m nowhere near Australian Idol worthy with my rendition of “Bob the Builder” despite my intense passion and overwhelming volume.

For as much as it barely phases me that I’m now constantly called “Daddy” and wander the aisles of the liquor store singing, “BOB THE BUILDER, Can he fix it? Yes! He! Can!” it also takes a minute for me to grasp that things are soooooo different here.

I’d love to think that I would ever have the time to catalog and dissect every little amusing difference between the American and Australian cultures, (heh… “fanny”… ha ha… is NOT your “butt”) but it seems every time I’m stationary two little yard apes decide to clamber prehensile-ly across the walking playground that is Me. That or *cough* newlyweddy stuff. For our families sake I won’t elaborate. I stay busy with my new family, ’nuff said.

If I had to sum up the entire culture comparison, from the American’s point-of-view, in one word, I’d say, “informal.” Almost every freakin’ experience I’ve had in this country has been that… informal.

Stuck in traffic and can’t make it to the busyass doctor’s clinicky place on time for your appointment? No Worries Mate, call and they’ll wait for you.

Don’t have all the right forms together for Unemployment Compensation? No Wuckin Forries Mate, we’ll sort you out and give you some cash anyway.

Couple o’ crazies screaming vulgarities at each other through a crowded sidewalk café? Bah, they’ll sort themselves out via more alcohol or edged weapons.

No Worries.

They really don’t sweat much at all here, and it’s Awesome.

If I were given a single sentence to sum up the same cultural comparison, not allowing for my psychotic, it-puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin obsession with the use of the comma, nor for my complete, utter, and obnoxious disrespect of hyphens by creating one word out of twenty three, I’d have to say, “Australians trust you not to be stupid here and, if you are, they trust you to be tits up within 24 hours.”

The decided lack of warning labels on food, on store signage, and especially in the Perth Aquarium, give me a very confident sense that people here really don’t necessarily need to be told that they shouldn’t dump scalding hot coffee directly onto their privates, should watch their step when actually approaching a step, and not to put their hands into the sting-you-so-bad-your-momma-cries-for-a-week jellyfish tank.

Sharks will attack you, snakes will bite you, bluies will sting you, and spiders will spryly jump on your dick during a leisurely evening piss…

All can, and will, kill you very quickly, so just don’t be stupid.

I may be very obviously glorifying this strange land for my own sake, but Accountability for Your Own Actions is a concept I’m absolutely in love with.

Flash back to my trip to the renamed-because-Aussies-apparently-hate-anything-royal-sounding Hungry Jack’s and I realized that I’d driven for about 20 blocks, taken at least 4 turns, crossed two major intersections and had come across only a single “Stop” sign. Just one.

Not only that, but there weren’t any “Yield” signs either (though they say “Give Way” here… no kidding, “GIVE it sucker, DO IT”).

Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant.

See? Here they trust you to actually LOOK when approaching an intersection and NOT blast out in front of large, metal, traveling-at-high-speeds contraptions creating twisted balls of flaming wreckage oozing human paste.

The only exception to this dearth of warning labels is packages of cigarettes which extremely explicitly enlighten at the top, in quarter-inch bold lettering no less, “SMOKING KILLS” and “YOUR SMOKING CAN HARM OTHERS,” and that’s just funny.

I believe this lack of signs is a sign.

It says, “You’re Home.”


I’d written the above before receiving notification that my visa has been approved! So all the brown-nosing I did above, even if I didn’t post it publicly yet, still paid off. When Jo and I are back in the States for X-mas, I’ll send my passport off to D.C. and they’ll stamp it, “Now an Aussie… sort of.”

It’s all set and we’re so excited that we tend to squeal like our little girl on Red Bull and constantly remind each other of the news, “Hey honey, guess what? MY VISA GOT APPROVED!” She nods, then replies, “That’s awesome baby, and know what else? YOUR VISA GOT APPROVED!”

Shoosh, we’re cute.